By Cynthia Ayala
“When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.” —IMDB
Unfolding in a sad and dismal future where the world is overpopulated and decaying all around, Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name is an action-packed emotional and vibrant film that capitalizes on the love of video games, pop culture, and 80s/90s nostalgia.
Following one Wade Watts (played by Tye Sheridan), the film begins lightly. He is a kid who, like everyone else in the world, uses the Oasis to escape the shitty state of the world. But not only that, he is a gunter, a hunter of the Easter eff that has been hidden by the Oasis creator, James Halliday, which would bestow his entire fortune to the winner. A fortune as vast as that, of course, everyone is going to want to play. But not everyone is playing for the greed of it. Which brings to life many other elements of the film that make it a great viewing experience.
The film itself is a work of art, going from CGI animation to showcase the brilliance of the VR world, to balancing the real world. Together they work, the structure of the film makes sure that it is going to work. It moves from real to the unreal without losing the character development to the characters and without taking the viewer out of the disillusionment of the film itself. However, it is not real, and the film highlights that living in a fantasy world does not negate the real world, it does not keep the reality away forever, and that sooner or later, everyone must face the situations they are in. Moreover, that is what Artemis/Samantha is fighting. She plays the game to keep it safe from IOI, the evil corporation that would exploit the Oasis and the people in it like they did her father. This is one of the reasons the back and forth works for this film because it shows the liveliness of the Oasis and juxtaposes it against the dimly set reality, making it understandable for the audience to accept the escape.
So while the story functions as a great escape, it also focuses on the art of video games, the fandoms, and, of course, pop culture. These are all things that bring people together, that promote teamwork and appreciation of the arts, whether they be films, shows, or games. Moreover, to highlight the love many people feel for those (certified Potterhead here) gives the film a level of warmth. Moreover, one does not necessarily need to be a fan of many of these games. Like, Halo, I do not play first-person shooters, I am a comic reading RPG game girl, but it made me smile and appreciate that they were there. There is just a joyness to this film as it plays with featuring everything everyone has grown up with. Plus, who does not love the 80s? Because that is the point, the present sucks so why not live in the past when things were better, not great, but better. Moreover, the 80s is nothing if not colorful and fun.
Now, as an adaptation, I cannot say. I was not able to get my hands on a copy of the novel before viewing the film, but considering that the screenplay was co-written Ernest Cline himself, I am sure it is as faithful to the novel as its going to get.(★★★★★ | A+)
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Directed by Steven Spielberg
Based on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures